1. An apparatus for measuring the visual acuity of the eye at different illuminations is described. The test object is continuously variable in size and is presented at a fixed distance from the eye in the center of a 30° field. Observation of the field is through an artificial pupil. The maximum intensity obtainable is more than enough to cover the complete physiological range for the eye with white light though only 110 watts are consumed by the source. Means for varying the intensity over a range of 1:1010 in small steps are provided.

2. The relation of visual acuity and illumination for two trained observers was measured, using two different types of test object, a broken circle and a grating. The measurements with both test objects show a break at a visual acuity of 0.16, all values below that being mediated by the rods and those above by the cones. The grating gives higher visual acuities at intensities less than about 30 photons and lower visual acuities above that. The maximum visual acuity attainable with the grating under the same conditions is about 30 per cent lower than that with the C. It is shown that the limiting factor in the resolution of the eye for the grating is the diameter of the pupil when it is less than 2.3 mm. and the size of the central cones when the pupil is larger than that. The value of the diameter of the cone derived on that basis from the visual acuity data agrees with that derived from direct cone count in a unit of area.

3. The data for the cones made with both test objects are adequately described by one and the same form of the stationary state equation derived by Hecht for the photoreceptor system. This fact, together with certain considerations about the difference in the nature of the two test objects with regard to the resolvable area, leads to the conclusion that detail perception is a function of a distance rather than an area. All the data for the rods can likewise be described by another variety of the same equation, although the data are too fragmentary to make the choice of the form as certain as might be desired.

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